Eric Rosenthal Reports

Thoughts and observations about issues, trends, and controversies in the cancer community.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

As Y-ME Awaits Bankruptcy Hearing, Its Faithful Continue Trying to Salvage Hotline

In mid-August, a little more than a month after Y-ME’s Board of Directors abruptly shut down the 34-year-old breast cancer advocacy organization and a few weeks prior to the Chapter 7 federal bankruptcy hearing for liquidation rather than reorganization, some of Y-ME’s faithful continued their efforts to salvage the group’s peer-to-peer staffed 24/7 toll-free hotline that had served some 40,000 callers a year.


I contacted a number of people I had spoken with last month and learned that although there was still interest and activity related to restoring the phone service, nothing concrete had taken place as of yet.


Former CEO Cindy Geoghegan said she was back home in Connecticut tending to personal matters, and would probably skip the meeting for creditors scheduled for September 5 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Northern District of Illinois.


Others I spoke with mentioned various meetings and conversations among former staff and volunteers exploring strategies to continue reaching out to the many callers who had relied on having another breast cancer survivor available to talk with them at any time of the day or night.


Some said that several advocacy organizations had asked the bankruptcy trustee for use of Y-ME’s 800 number or databases, but had been turned down, and that a closed “Friends of Y-ME” Facebook page was created primarily for former hotline counselors.


I also followed up with SHARE and Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC), the two breast cancer advocacy organizations that had been used for referrals on a recorded message for some six hours between the time Y-ME’s phone lines were silenced and the Board pulled the plug on the recording.


SHARE said that the number of callers had doubled within the last month and that some of Y-ME’s former volunteer phone counselors had expressed interest in helping SHARE cover the additional calls.


And LBBC’s representative wrote back that she would not be available to respond before this was posted.




UPDATE, 8/15:

On August 15 I spoke with Jean Sachs, MSS, MLSP, the CEO of Living Beyond Breast Cancer, who said that the number of phone calls her organization received since Y-ME's closing has not increased significantly.